How To Use Long-Tail Keywords To Improve Your SEO

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 10 min read
How To Use Long-Tail Keywords To Improve Your SEO

Table of Contents


Keywords are the basis of pretty much all SEO. In fact, when search engines were first created, they cared about one thing and one thing only - keywords.

Of course, once the number of websites on the web started increasing, keywords alone weren’t enough. Search engines like Google had to come up with other metrics to track in order to determine your site’s ranking within search engine results.

This is where Google first started tracking metrics like bounce rate (which measures how quickly people leave your site after visiting), website security features, your site’s structure, and more.

However, they didn’t forget about keywords completely! Primary and secondary keywords are still very important in SEO today. They’re just not everything like they were twenty years ago.

One of the most changes in keyword-driven SEO is Google’s increasing focus on ranking sites for long-tail keywords. If you’ve ever wondered what long-tail keywords are and how to use them to improve your SEO campaign, then you’ve come to the right place!

Below, we’ll explain the difference between primary keywords and long-tail keywords, show you how to find and identify long-tail keywords using Ranktracker’s Keyword Finder tool, and how to check its overall competition. Then, we’ll show how to put your new long-tail keywords to work by optimizing your site’s content and ads with them.

Are you ready to rank?

Long-Tail Keywords vs. Primary Keywords

Perhaps you have some experience with using keywords on your site before. If you’re like many first-time webmasters, you may have experimented with Google’s free Keyword tool that comes with part of their Adwords program. Perhaps you’ve identified some solid keywords and included them throughout your site’s content.

While this is certainly a good first step towards improving your site’s overall SEO, it’s far from the only solution. Without long-tail keywords, your site looks just as generic as every one of your competitors (to the Google ranking algorithm, at least).

So, what makes a long-tail keyword different from a regular primary keyword?

Simply put, long-tail keywords are more specific than your standard primary keywords.

For example, let’s just say that you own a website/business that sells workout supplements. Some of your primary keywords might be “workout supplements”, “pre-workout”, “creatine powder”, or “affordable whey protein”. Easy enough to understand, right?

However, these primary keywords aren’t very specific. The chances are that there are several other competitors in your niche who are already ranking for the same thing. Competition is usually harsher for simpler search terms.

So, let’s get a little bit more specific and dig into some possible long-tail keyword variations that you could use. Instead of generalized products, some long-tail keywords could be “best vegan protein powder”, “all-natural pre-workout formula”, or “keto-friendly protein supplements”.

We could even get hyper-detailed and go for something as long-tailed as “best affordable vegan protein subscription”.

See where we’re going here?

The more specific the keyword is, the lower the competition and the better chance you have of ranking among search engine results displayed to targeted leads.

How Long Is A Long-Tail Keyword?

One of the most common questions we get about long-tail keywords is, “How long is a long-tail keyword”?

To be fair, it’s a completely honest question and one that hundreds of people ask.

Truth be told, though, there is no specific length that a long-tail keyword has to have. In terms of long-tail keywords, specificity is everything.

Realistically, if you can look at any keyword and break it down further into a more specific request, it’s a primary keyword. Once you’ve broken this broad search term up into small, more specific queries, then you’ve got yourself a long-tail keyword.

Why You Should Target Long-Tail Keywords

So, why should you target long-tail keywords, in the first place? Are primary keywords no longer important? Should you even bother to use primary keywords?

These are some of the most frequent questions that webmasters have when trying to figure out how to implement long-tail keywords into their websites.

The reason why you should target long-tail keywords is that they’re a lot more targeted than your usual primary keyword. While primary keywords should still be used throughout your website and pillar content, your long-tail keywords give you a chance to rank for specific queries that aren’t quite as competitive.

Ultimately, it’s not an either-or type of decision. Both primary keywords and long-tail keywords should be used within your articles.

Still not satisfied? Well, here are the top three reasons why you should spend more time targeting long-tail keywords.

1. They Aren’t As Competitive

The reason why long-tail keywords became popular, in the first place, was that they weren’t as competitive as larger primary keywords. After search engines had been around for a few years, it became a lot harder for new sites and business listings to rank for the same keywords that more established players were already using.

It was one of those rare opportunities in history where a lucky few brands got to establish online dominance.

So, the solution was simple. Newer, younger, sites and businesses started to target more long-tail keywords so that they wouldn’t have to directly compete with the big guys.

Just consider that you own an online shoe store. It would be stupid to directly compete with giants like Nike or Vans; their pages are going to dominate for primary keywords like “running shoes” or “skating shoes.”

So, you decide to go niche…

While you do use these primary keywords periodically through your main pages, you also use long-tail keywords, such as, “recycled skating shoes,” and “heavy-duty waterproof work boots” to rank for niche shoe types that larger competitors may have overlooked (or just don’t care about).

Suddenly, instead of being a small fish in a big pond, you’re a big fish in a small pond. While this idea doesn't always work well on a philosophical level, it certainly works well in marketing!

2. The Leads Are More Motivated

This brings us to our second reason why you should be using long-tail keywords more often in your SEO strategy… the leads are more motivated. Remember, the whole point of long-tail keywords is to use more specific queries as your keywords. This is what will help you get more targeted niche traffic.

Obviously, as we showed you above, there’s a higher chance your site will get viewed simply because there are fewer competitors. However, there’s another interesting fact about long-tail keywords that really seals the deal.

People who search for long-term keywords are far more motivated to purchase your product or service than people who search for larger, broader terms.

You see, by the time somebody is typing in “best affordable vegan protein shake,” they have a pretty good idea of what they want. Most people using long-tail keywords are those who are searching for something very specific that most of your competitors may not offer.

In other words, most users who are using long-tail keywords aren’t “window shoppers.” By targeting long-tails, you’ll be exposing your site to higher-converting traffic, which can make a big difference to your bottom line, at the end of the month.

3. They Often Fit Into Primary and Secondary Keywords

Last but not least, another great reason to start using more long-tail keywords is that they often fit directly into your primary and secondary keywords. This effectively allows you to kill two birds with one stone by using both a long-tail and primary keyword at the same time.

Here are a few good examples of primary keywords that fit into long-tail keywords:

  • NYC Cafe > NYC Cafe For Studying > NYC Cafe With Craft Coffee.

  • Running Shoes > Affordable Running Shoes Under $50 > Orthopedic-Rated Running Shoes

  • Burger Restaurant > Vegan Burger Restaurant Near Me > Best Happy Hour Burger Restaurant.

How To Find Long-Tail Keywords With Rank Tracker’s Keyword Finder

Hopefully, by now, you should have a solid understanding of why you should start using more long-tail keywords in your content and throughout your site. There’s only one question that remains, though…

How do you find good long-tail keywords for your niche?

Thankfully there’s a super-simple solution that takes all of the hard work out of the equation. Ranktracker’s highly effective Keyword Finder tool will automatically take primary keywords that you input and generate a list of the best long-tail keywords that you could possibly use.

The long-tail keywords generated by the Keyword Finder aren’t random, either. They’re actually ranked in order based on their overall strength. Once you search for your primary keyword, you’ll be able to see all of the less competitive long-tail keywords used by other sites.

It doesn’t just stop there, though.

You’ll also be able to see how competitive each keyword is, how trendy the keyword is, the monthly search volume for the keyword, and even the average cost per click for PPC marketing campaigns that use that particular long-tail keyword.

In essence, Ranktracker’s Keyword Finder gives you all of the information that you need to find and identify the best long-tail keywords for your business.

We can then go one step further…

If you really want to analyze how competitive a certain long-tail keyword is, you can search for that same keyword within Ranktracker’s SERP Checker tool. This will show you all of the top-ranking competitors within Google SERPs results for that long-tail keyword.

You’ll be able to see key metrics about your competitors, so you can tell how easy (or hard) it’ll be to overtake their ranking position for that long-tail keyword.

Look At “People Also Ask” Results In Google

Another interesting place to find popular long-tail keywords is to Google a question related to your primary keyword. As soon as you enter the query, you’ll likely be presented with several sites containing the answer to your question. However, Google will also present you with a small section titled “People Also Ask.”

Here, you’ll be able to see other frequently asked questions by Google users, along with answers from SEO-optimized sites. Optimizing your own site for this Q&A section is an entirely different subject, which we’ve covered in other articles; however, you can use these specific search queries as long-tail keywords, if you think that your site can provide a more concise, detailed answer to them.

Check Quora

Another good place to find random (but common) long-tail keywords is on Quora. Quora is the leading question-and-answer site on the web and allows anybody to ask a question and receive detailed responses from people around the world.

To find some interesting questions and long-tail keywords for your website content, just go on Quora’s main website and type in some of your primary and secondary keywords. This should pull up a long list of previously-asked questions surrounding your niche topic. Take these topics and run!

How To Utilize Long-Tail Keywords

So, now that you’ve done all of the “hard work” and research to identify some good long-tail keywords for your business, it’s time to put them to work. After all, you didn’t go through all of that research for nothing, right?

Below, we’ll discuss several key ways to utilize long-tail keywords, such as embedding them in your business listing, using them in website content, and using them for PPC ads. Take a look!

Long-Tail Keywords For Local Business Listings

If you own a business that services a certain region or locale, then you should have a completed business profile on Google My Business, Yelp!, Apple Maps, etc. Your Google business listing is, by far, the most important. What most people don’t know about their Google My Business listing is that it can also be used for SEO purposes!

For example, if you have a few really good long-tail keywords, you can include them in your business about/biography section. Then, as you continue to add images and posts to your My Business page, you can use the description section to embed a few well-placed long-tail keywords as well.

Long-Tail Keywords For Your Website

The best place to utilize long-tail keywords is your website itself. Whenever possible, try to use long-tail keywords that include your primary and secondary keywords, as we discussed earlier. When it comes to using them on your website, you’ll typically use them for different pieces of content. For example, you might make small blog posts centered around a single long-tail keyword, while you’d make larger articles that contain multiple long-tail keywords.

Structuring Keyword-Driven Content For Your Website

That being said, here are some great tips for creating keyword-driven content around your long-tail keywords.

1. Make Use Of Header Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)

Whenever possible, include your long-tail keyword in a header tag. This shows the Google algorithm that your page has some level of expertise in this area, as you’ve dedicated an entire header section to it.

2. Use Q&A Format

One of the best ways to get featured in Google’s Rich Results “People Also Ask” section is to utilize a question and answer format around your long-tail keywords. Use your long-tail keyword to ask a direct question; then answer it in 50 words or less directly below.

Long-Tail Keywords For PPC Ads

Lastly, long-tail keywords can be used for Google PPC (pay-per-click) ads. In fact, if you plan on running and Google Adwords campaigns, then we strongly recommend using long-tail keywords over primary keywords. This is because they’re a lot more affordable!

To get an idea of how much you can expect to pay for a PPC campaign, simply enter your long-tail keyword into Ranktracker’s Keyword Finder tool. The top result should show you the average expected CPC (cost-per-click) that you’ll have to pay each time somebody clicks your link.

How To Always Rank For Long-Tail Keywords

As you can tell, long-tail keywords are most definitely worth your time. Thankfully, identifying them is easy with the Keyword Finder tool. Then, you can use the SERP Checker to double-check the long-tail keyword and analyze its top competitors, so you can decide whether it’s a good choice for your site or note.

As you start implementing these long-tail keywords throughout your site, you can use Ranktracker’s premier Rank Tracker tool to track your site as it ranks up or down in SERPs results for that particular keyword. You’ll be able to track the traffic that the long-tail keyword brings in, how it’s doing as far as SERPs Features go, and analyze other important metrics.

As long as you’re constantly improving your existing content strategy and pivoting to ensure that you’re always ahead of the game, then you’ll always be able to rank for long-tail keywords. The key is having access to proper SEO tools that are capable of tracking your keywords and generating complex SEO metric data. This will allow you to make data-driven decisions about your marketing strategy, and allow you to dominate your niche market.




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